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Fear and Loathing at Kanye’s Pop-Up Shop Opening

Talking with fans in line outside New York's hottest short-term clothing store

“There goes Kanye!” The desire to falsely shout out Mr. West’s arrival at his pop-up fashion store in downtown Manhattan is strong, though doing so would probably incite a riot — the millennial equivalent of yelling “fire!” in a crowded movie theater. This is the power of Kanye: the uncanny ability to attract hordes of hip downtown kids, ready to wait for hours and fork over hundreds of dollars for a bomber jacket, hoping against hope to be graced with Yeezus’ presence. They’re lined up on Wooster Street (down the block and around the corner), where there are also two TV news trucks, and a handful of moody police likely experiencing early mid-life crises, having discovered that they are now flummoxed by the current definition of “cool.”

The occasion is the opening of a three-day pop-up shop, in celebration of Kanye West’s new (yet perpetually unfinished) album, The Life of Pablo. Is he a genius, madman, or both? Never mind that debate – he’s an entrepreneur. This is the third of his album-driven pop-ups, after 2013’s Yeezus, and 2011’s Watch the Throne, and one would guess by the size of the crowd (and the fact that fellow stars like Drake have followed suit) that the venture is a success.

So successful that people have begun pushing by the entrance, and a large man who seems to be in charge has started calling in vain for a single-file line. A bystander laughs and comments “savages” to no one in particular. The shop opens at 4:00. SPIN arrived at 2:30. Everyone else showed up at 12:00. Even though Kanye tweeted the announcement only a day earlier, people have turned out in droves, and now the police are finally closing the street — the term “fashionably late” definitely doesn’t apply here. Regardless, we didn’t get the memo, so we spent our time talking to the people in line instead of waiting in it ourselves. Check out our conversations, below.

Ryan, 20, student


Favorite Kanye Album?
Psshh, I don’t know. Might be 808s, possibly. It’s a rough question.

Favorite song from Pablo?
Probably “Famous” or “No More Parties.”

Why are you here?
Praying to see the god himself, but also pick up some nice s**t while I’m here.

What’s your budget? At the Yeezus pop-up the shirts were like $80.
That’s fine: I got the credit card. I got the plastic.

Kanye or Hudson Mohawke?

Kanye or Deadmau5?

Kanye or Amber Rose?

Kanye or Taylor Swift?

How do you feel about that line, though?
Ehh, I don’t know. I mean, pretty “facts,” but some would argue otherwise. She’s alright, her looks will get her somewhere.

Kanye or Wiz?

Cassidy, 21, student


When did you get here?

Why are you here?
I’m trying to get some stuff! Kanye stuff. Anything.

Do you think he’s going to be here?
I don’t think so, because I was at the Yeezus pop-up, and he didn’t show up.

So Help Me God, Swish, Waves, or Pablo?
Life of Pablo.

Do you “miss the old Kanye?”
I miss the pink pastel shirt.

Jimmy, 18, student


Favorite Kanye song?
As of now, it’s going to be “Fade,” off The Life of Pablo.

If you were Mark Zuckerberg, would you donate $1 billion dollars to Kanye?
Nah, because Kanye’s kind of a dick, so… he’s not getting $1 billion from me.

Kanye or Amber Rose?
Amber Rose.

Kanye or Taylor Swift?
Taylor Swift.

How do you feel about that line?
It’s kind of weird, but since she gave permission, supposedly, I guess it’s cool.

Kanye or Wiz?
Wiz. That got me tight.

Mike, 19, student


Why are you here?
I’m trying to cop some Pablo merch.

What’s your budget look like?
I don’t think I’m going to spare any expense, because I love wearing Kanye merchandise. But, if nothing fits me, I probably won’t resell it, but give it to a friend, because I know my friends really like it.

What do you think about the fact that Kanye hasn’t really finished Pablo yet, and that he’s still updating it on Tidal?
I think it’s pretty interesting. No one’s ever done an album release like that before, and I think it’s going to set an interesting precedent for future albums, and how an album evolves when it’s not completely finished yet.

Marquis, 19, works at Bass shoes


Favorite Kanye song?

“Barry Bonds.”

Favorite song from Pablo?
“Ultralight Beam.”

Do you “miss the old Kanye?”
No, not at all. The old Kanye had more bars, but this new Kanye is more emotional. It’s better.

If you were Mark Zuckerberg, would you donate $1 billion to Kanye?

Have you donated to the Go Fund Me campaign?
Hell no.

Shaquan, 17, tutor


Why are you here?
I’m trying to get more merch.

Where’d you get that sweatshirt?
I got it at the Yeezy Season 3 show.

Favorite Kanye Song?
At the moment I like “Father Stretch My Hands.” “On Sight” is dope. “New Slaves” is good. Oh, “Blood on the Leaves,” top.

Kanye or Amber Rose?
Amber Rose.

Kanye or Taylor Swift?

How do you feel about that line?
It’s a little unwarranted, but I don’t care.

Alex, 19


Favorite Kanye song?
At the moment? “Feedback.”

Why are you here?
To cop the long-sleeve Life of Pablo shirt.

What’s your budget?
I’m hoping the long-sleeve’s going to be like $60. But if it’s $100, I’m going to cop it anyway.

So Help Me God, Swish, Waves, or The Life of Pablo?

Hector, 21, student


Why are you here?
I’m hoping that I meet Kanye West for the first time, if anything, and I also want to see, basically, if the merchandise is all it’s cracked up to be. Because I’m a huge Kanye west fan, but you know, I didn’t spend too much time listening to Pablo, but I knew he’d be presenting something respectable.

How long are you willing to wait?
It depends. Honestly, it has to do with the line. If I see that the line is acting stagnant, and it just moves a minute per hour, then there’s no point. I’d rather take my chances not even coming back tomorrow or Sunday: just catching him at another event.

Do you “miss the old Kanye?”
That’s not a real question.

Kate, 23, dental assistant


When did you get here?
Like, 20 minutes ago.

Really? You’re pretty close to the front.
I mean, I kind of sneaked in.

Why are you here?
I’m here to get my brother a birthday gift.

That’s a nice gift.
Yeah, I would not be standing here otherwise.

Kanye or Hudson Mohawke?
I don’t know who the other person is.

Parlay, 29


Where are you from?
I’m from Jersey.

Did you come out just for Kanye?
Yeah, I just wanted to see what it was about. If it was art, if it was clothing. No matter what it was, I just wanted to check out the vibe.

Favorite album?
My Dark Twisted Fantasy was definitely one of my favorites just off the feel and production, but I was also a big fan of Yeezus, because the sound was different. It’s kind of like something the Neptunes did back in the day, like weird sounds that people grew into. I thought he had a great vision.

If you were Mark Zuckerberg, would you donate $1 billion to Kanye?
I don’t know about “donate,” but I would loan him. I would have [it be] more of a business deal.

Rahani, student


How long have you been in line?
Since 12:00.

What’s your budget?
Somebody was saying the t-shirts are $45. I heard the bomber’s like $330, so nothing more than like $400 for one thing. That’s too much.

Do you “miss the old Kanye?”
That’s so hard! I do miss the old Kanye. He was more childlike. I think now he’s more jaded and mad at everything. I think I like the more optimistic Kanye, more than the pessimistic one, jaded about people who tried to help him and things like that.

Nigeria, 23


Where are you from?
I’m from Brooklyn, New York, but I live in Queens.

How long have you been waiting?
Like three hours.

Favorite song off of Pablo?
That’s hard, because I think that album is a work of art. Like it’s a true masterpiece. I’d probably have to go with “Father Stretch My Arm” [sic] and “Wolves.”

What do you think about the fact that he’s still updating it as he goes along? Do some songs sound unfinished to you?
No song sounds unfinished. The fact that he’s updating it: that’s something new. That’s something that hasn’t been done, prior. Artists don’t just drop an album then say “hey, I’m going to upload more songs.” Then you go on the app the next day, and it’s another song, or something else. It’s kind of new. I don’t know how to really feel about it. It’s not a bad thing, because it’s more music.

Tags: Kanye West